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The Mayors

The Chicago Political Tradition, fourth edition

Edited by Paul M. Green and Melvin G. Holli

Publication Year: 2013

 Originally released in 1987, The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition gathered some of the finest minds in political thought to provide shrewd analysis of Chicago’s mayors and their administrations. Twenty-five years later, this fourth edition continues to illuminate the careers of some of Chicago’s most respected, forceful, and even notorious mayors, leaders whose lives were often as vibrant and eclectic as the city they served. In addition to chapters on the individual mayors—including a new chapter on Rahm Emanuel, enhanced by an expert explanation of the current state of the city’s budget by Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation—this new edition offers an insightful overview of the Chicago mayoral tradition throughout the city’s history; rankings of the mayors evaluated on their leadership and political qualities; an appendix of Chicago’s mayors and their years of service; and additional updated materials.

Chicago’s mayoral history is one of corruption and reform, scandal and ambition. This well-researched volume, more relevant than ever twenty-five years after its first edition, presents an intriguing and informative glimpse into the fascinating lives and legacies of Chicago’s most influential leaders.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Preface to the Fourth Edition

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pp. xi-13

Twenty-six years ago, The Mayors was first published. Chicago was under the leadership of its first African American mayor, Harold Washington, and the city was suffering from the racially divisive "council wars." This updated fourth edition comes out after Chicagoans have elected their first Jewish mayor,...

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Preface to the First Edition

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book was conceived as an effort to provide a political road map for the past century, charting where Chicago has been with its principal executive office, the mayoralty and its leading occupants, and where it may be going in the future. We have omitted some of the lesser mayors who served in the period...

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1. Joseph Medill: Chicago's First Modern Mayor

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pp. 1-15

Joseph Medill is not often remembered for his term as Chicago's first chief executive after the Great Fire of 1871, despite the historical importance of his regime. Medill's years as mayor were largely overshadowed by his other occupations. For most of the second half of the nineteenth century, Medill ran...

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2. Carter H. Harrison II: The Politics of Balance

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pp. 16-32

For a man who served five terms as mayor of Chicago, a man whose father before him had also served five terms, one who lived on well into his nineties, and who wrote not one but two autobiographies, Carter H. Harrison II is remarkably little known or remembered in Chicago. No. monuments or memorials...

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3. Edward F. Dunne: The Limits of Municpal Reform

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pp. 33-49

For two tumultuous years between Aprill905 and Aprill907, Chicago was widely regarded as "the most radical city in America," one presided over by a "socialist" mayor who loaded his administration with "long-haired friends and short-haired women." The chief executive who evoked such furor was a fifty-two...

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4. Fred A. Busse: A Silent Mayor in Turbulent Times

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pp. 50-60

Mayor Fred A. Busse's political personality may be suggested by the fact that during the entire mayoral campaign in 1907 he gave no speeches, made no campaign appearances. This was due partially to circumstance. At the start of the campaign, while returning to Chicago from Washington, Busse was seriously...

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5. Big Bill Thompson: The "Model" Politician

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pp. 61-81

The Honorable James E. Watson, Republican from Indiana, found himself in impressive company. Fellow senators William Borah, Robert LaFollette, and George Norris all were present, and, minding tradition, they consented to Watson's request to insert a magazine article into. the Congressional Record. And so...

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6. William E. Dever: A Chicago Political Fable

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pp. 82-98

Once there was a mayor of Chicago named William E. Dever. He built great public works, removed politics from the city schools, revitalized municipal government, cut waste, and ran the gangsters out of town. Not once was there even the hint of scandal in his administration. He became well-known throughout...

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7. Anton J. Cermak: The Man and His Machine

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pp. 99-110

Anton J. Cermak was Chicago's first and only foreign-born mayor. No man in Chicago political history had a more controversial and complicated political career than "Tony" Cermak. To some Cermak was a gruff bully who consorted with mobsters and hooligans while others viewed him as a political genius and...

Gallery of Images

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pp. G1-G18

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8. Edward J. Kelly: New Deal Machine Builder

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pp. 111-125

For fourteen critical years spanning the Great Depression and Second World War, Edward J. Kelly ruled Chicago's city hall and its Democratic party. At a time when political machines were declining in most American cities, thereverse was true of Chicago, where Ed Kelly, with the assistance of Pat Nash, not...

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9. Martin H. Kennelly: The Mugwump and the Machine

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pp. 126-143

He was a nice man. It is not the sort of thing one usually says about Chicago's mayors, but the description suits Mayor Martin H. Kennelly. The incongruity stems not from his personality, but rather from his accidental occupation of city hall. Unlike those who clambered to the top of Chicago's political heap by...

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10. Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Politics of Good Government

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pp. 144-159

Richard J. Daley was Chicago's mayor from 1955 to 1976. His lasting legacy and reputation are filled with political and governmental contradictions. To some current political scientists he was "the last of the urban machine bosses"; a friendly biographer called him "an Irish warrior"; Time magazine in 1963...

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11. Michael A. Bilandic: The Last of the Machine Regulars

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pp. 160-167

Unlike most Chicago mayors, Michael Bilandic is most remembered for how he entered and exited office and not for what he accomplished as the city's chief executive. Under any circumstance, the mayor succeeding Richard J. Daley would have found the task of governing the city difficult. Daley was Chicago,...

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12. Jane M. Byrne: To Think the Unthinkable and Do the Undoable

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pp. 168-178

When Jane M. Byrne won the Democratic Party's primary nomination for mayor in February 1979 in a stunning upset over incumbent mayor Michael Bilandic, a power surge of euphoria went through her. "I beat the whole god-ยท damn Machine singlehanded," she uttered in an ecstatic moment.1 It had been...

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13. Harold Washington: The Enigma of the Black Plitical Tradition

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pp. 179-197

Mayor Harold Washington is described in a biographical sketch by Robert McClory as "a remarkable man of paradoxes and enigmas."1 McClory, a former reporter for the Chicago Defender, the principal black newspaper, certainly knows his way around black political circles; but he admits that Washington...

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14. Putting Harold to Rest

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pp. 198-202

When Harold Washington was elected the first black mayor of Chicago in April 1983, he declared, "The city will never be the same." He was right then. But now he must be turning over in his grave in Chicago's old Oakwood Cemetery. Since his death in November 1987, progressive politics has not been...

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15. The Sawyer Saga: A Journalist, Who Just Happened to be the Mayor's Press Secretary, Speaks

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pp. 203-221

This is not the voice of Acting Mayor Sawyer's press secretary speaking, mind you, although there is the distinct possibility that you will hear it from time to time later on. But rather, this is the opinion of a veteran Chicago journalist who studied and covered Chicago politics for sixteen years before...

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16. Richard M. Daley and the Politics of Addition

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pp. 222-237

In 1983 Rich Daley, the Cook County state's attorney, suffered a bone-crushing loss in Chicago's Democratic mayoral primary. This epic battle (called by some the "Super Bowl of Chicago politics"), which pitted the incumbent mayor, Jane Byrne (the city's first and only female mayor) against Congressman...

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17. Rahm Emanuel: Beginning a New Mayoral Era in Chicago

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pp. 238-262

In 2011, Rahm Emanuel was elected Chicago's first Jewish mayor. This chapter will demonstrate how Emanuel and his campaign staff downplayed not only religion but also race, municipal and governance experience, and the candidate's lack of personal connection with large sections of the city. His campaign...

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18. Ranking Chicago's Mayors: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Greatest of Them All?--An Updated Poll

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pp. 263-273

Who is number one? Who has been the best mayor in Chicago's history? The age-old question was addressed in a new survey completed in fall 2002. The poll asked Chicago experts in history and politics to rank all of Chicago's mayors from the very first in 1837 down through the 2002 incumbent, Richard...

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19. The Chicago Political Tradition: A Mayoral Retrospective

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pp. 274-278

A review of Chicago's modern mayors reveals a simple fact: there is no one way to win city hall. Some past Chicago mayors have been clever political strategists who outfought and outsmarted their mayoral rivals; some have been loyal party stalwarts who eased their -way to the top; others have been nontraditional...

Appendix: Chicago Mayors

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pp. 281-282


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pp. 283-318


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pp. 319-355


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pp. 321-333

Back Cover

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p. 369-369

E-ISBN-13: 9780809331994
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809331987

Publication Year: 2013